Image via Golden Corral
Written by Edward Smith
Two new commitments in the Central Valley for a nationwide restaurant chain hope to buck the trend of buffet closings with a concentrated campaign in California.
Golden Corral has announced two commitments from franchisees in Fresno and Visalia, with openings forecasted in the next 12-15 months.
While the space in Fresno is still being finalized, Van Ingram, vice president of franchise development for North Carolina-based Golden Corral, said an announcement is not far off.
Spaces for the restaurant are not small — anywhere from 10,000 to 12,000 square feet to hold up to 400 hungry people at a time.
At the same time that other buffets have closed, Golden Corral boasts “quality and fresh food” as the factor for their penetration into California.
Since 2012, the restaurant has opened 15 locations in California with one more opening this year in Moreno Valley. Two more are in the permitting process and they have signed commitments with franchisees for 13 more, including those in Fresno and Visalia. Commitments take anywhere from 12-24 months to realize.
Bac Tran signed on to be the franchisee for the Fresno area — his first with the company.
Buffets can be difficult to manage, considering small margins, said Ingram. One of the hot trends in food service is with specialty restaurants.
“When you look at the evolution of the restaurant, a lot of people look for specialization,” Ingram said.
But the key for Golden Corral, as Ingram puts it, is “abundance and variety.” They serve American-comfort-fare, with meatloaf, a salad bar and steak always on the menu. They have anywhere from 8-10 proteins and 5-6 fresh vegetables.
Some in the Valley may have seen their television commercials but have not had the chance to visit a Golden Corral. Bakersfield is the nearest location. They’ve focused a lot of marketing in the state to be able to break through, and according to Ingram, the openings in California have been some of the biggest in the company.
When they opened their location in Concord, it ranked volume-wise in the top-10 of openings since the company’s inception in 1973.
“I think business people will see the success with our most recent opening, and I think we can replicate that,” Ingram said. “That’s why we’re targeting the state of California.”